The front yard is beautiful right now, as it is full of cheerful, bright-yellow Black-eyed Susans! I can’t help walking by and admiring them several times a day, and while videoing and photographing them this past week, I happened to notice a delightful surprise hiding! It was one of our baby Praying Mantis, that has obviously grown into a big adult. Amazingly while I was watching it, with lightening speed, it grabbed a large bug and appeared to be biting it. Seconds later, it let the bug go and I watched to see what would happen, and the bug walked away, as if nothing had happened. So I assumed that the mantis didn’t much care for the scent of the bug, thinking it wouldn’t be a very tasty snack. Loss for the mantis . . . score for the bug.
A few moments laster, the Praying Mantis started grooming itself, and did so with careful, methodical precision, cleaning each part of its front legs, and then used them to wipe its head and eyes off. It was a bathing ceremony almost as meticulous as some cats. I absolutely love finding amazing surprises like this in our gardens, and it always makes my day!
We have been doing some work on projects around the house this past week, so I haven’t had time to paint anymore on my miniature I shared with you last week. The garden plants are keeping us well supplied with fresh eggplants, peppers, tiny tomatoes and lots of cucumbers, which I have been turning into pickles . . . Can you say yummy!
We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.
Well, it’s been kind of laid back here this past week, as we’ve just been hanging out around the house while mostly painting, and we’ve enjoyed our bike rides almost daily as well. The most exciting happening during the past week, was our neighborhood Memorial Day party last Monday. We all met at the city park located near our neighborhood, about 1 PM. Everyone brought lots of yummy food, with the highlight being the homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream that the Hedricks, who own the Highland Manor Inn at the bottom of our mountain, graciously brought once again this year! It went perfectly with the delicious birthday cake our neighbor Lorraine, made for her husband Ron’s birthday and I decorated it for her. I had lots of fun decorating it in a festive red icing and wrote Happy Birthday really big, and Ron really small, just to be a bit aggravating . . . but hey, what can one expect for free services . . . Ha! Anyway, we all had a great time filled with lots of laughing and conversation, and of course eating!
Wes has been working in the garden daily, and we’re delighted to see things finally starting to grow! The Mulberry tree is full of berries as well, with many now getting good and ripe. So as you can imagine, I’ve spent quite a bit of time out picking berries up off of the ground, which my critter friends graciously knock down for me. I’ve also been dragging out a step stool and standing on it to pick the ripe berries which I can reach. Now that even more of them are getting ripe, next I plan to drag the ladder out, and climb up into the tree, while eating as many of those delectable little berries that I can reach! I love sitting on the back porch and watching the squirrels climbing, swinging and jumping their way around the tree, while searching for and eating the berries. They put on a far better show than a three-ring circus! The birds love it just as much as if not more than the squirrels, and easily fly about the tree eating their share too. While I was sitting out on the porch last evening enjoying this show, Tinymouse, my little Tufted Titmouse friend, came and sat on my head for a bit, while redoing my hair-do! That’s always a treat, although my hair style doesn’t think so as much. . . Ha!
We also enjoyed a fun evening this past week while playing Mexican Train dominoes at our friends, Fred and Barb’s house, along with our other friend Sammie. We all did more laughing than anything, which is the usual with that group! We also enjoyed eating Fred’s beautiful and delicious lime and lemon cake . . . Mmmmmm! Barb is presently in a cast, as she broke her foot a few weeks ago now. Before that she broke her arm, so she has to be moved around outside in a wheelchair, and Wes loves pushing her fast, making her do wheelies, go down the stairs backwards and other adventurous wheel chair stunts which I think Barb is not as fond of, but gives the rest of us a bunch of laughs!
Fresh off the easel ~ I finished my miniature still life painting of my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, which my granny sweetly had made for me when I was a little girl. As you can imagine they’re quite special to me, and so they made for a fun painting! Also this past week, Wes finished his painting of a Side-Blotched Lizard.
The past week has proved to be quite interesting! Tinymouse, one of our little resident Tufted Titmice, which surprisingly landed on my head one evening last week, has done so numerous times again, mainly when I’m sitting on the backporch eating breakfast or supper, and even while I have been walking around in the backyard, and working on my flowers! She obviously wants to add a bit of my curls to her nest, and works diligently at times trying to gather a beak full, while at other times, she simply sits on my shoulder. Needless to say, I definitely have a new hairstylist! Such delight she brings me each time we have this amazing encounter! One evening this past week, at one point during a meal, while Tinymouse was sitting atop my head, Peedeepeeps, my Carolina Wren friend, had sauntered up to my dinner plate to check out my pasta noodles, and looked up at me as if to say . . . “Is this all you have to offer me?” I felt like I was Snow White, and as if I were living in a fairytale at that moment!
Almost daily I have been able to scrounge up enough mealworms to give Peedeepeeps, to feed his precious babies. One evening, I sat on the steps leading from the back deck, while Peedeepeeps came and got two at a time from my hand and flew nearby to where his babies were and would feed them. Each time I could hear the tweets of delight as he stuffed the little hungry beaks with the worms! Then he would quickly fly back and sit by me as he patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, waited for me to sift through the cornmeal and find more worms. This went on for quite sometime, until the worm population had greatly decreased! Other evenings he even brought them up onto the back porch, and we would carry out this same activity, with me finding worms and giving them to him, then with him flying directly over to feed the hungry little ones. What a great experience and treat for me to help be able to feed these little ones!
There has been a force of destruction slowly making its way around Townsend the past two months, and unfortunately it came up into our neighborhood this past week. I call it “The East Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre!” . . . compliments of our local power companies! Many of our neighbors spent hours pleading and arguing their cases to try and save their beloved trees, or at least part of them! We were able to save at least one small lower limb on our beautiful Ornamental Cherry Tree, although every limb from that point up was taken off to the trunk on the one side. However, I’m afraid our poor neighbors across the street fared the worst out of the neighborhood, as I believe the man in the bucket, with the saw, had a fit of rage there and sawed everything in sight way back from the power line, including a three-foot tall native Dogwood Tree, which the power company had given them two years prior to plant there! The uncanny thing is that that very morning, Wes hung my new garden flag which features Winnie-the-pooh and Tigger on it and reads “Trees are my friends!” Now I’m searching for another flag which reads “Most of my friends are now gone or maimed!” I do believe the saddest loss, was a neighbor’s three-foot native Mountain Laurel, at which we all enjoyed admiring its dainty blooms each spring, which they cut to the ground! Oh well . . . something’s are just out of our hands I suppose.
This past Friday evening, Wes and I enjoyed attending a concert by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra at the beautiful Theater in the Park, along the Maryville Greenbelt. It was a lovely and chilly evening as we sat under blankets while enjoying the beautiful and soothing melodious tunes pouring from the amphitheater. The evening concert started off with the lovely sounds of Giachini Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra Overture”. Baby Starlings were in a nest, which was located in the top of the amphitheater, and each time a parent would return with a tasty morsel with which to fill their open beaks, they would sing out in excited tweets, which the sound system then picked up and played loudly along with the music! The best part was that they almost seemed to time it as if adding their own musical touch to the performance! A couple of songs later, one of my favorites, the upbeat tempo of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” was played. The fun and delightful tune of Leory Anderson’s “Syncopated Clock’ and “Home Stretch” were then enjoyed and brought the crowd to life! In the second part, a melody form “Les Miserables” as well as selection from “Titanic” filled the night air, and seemed to slowly melt there before completely drifting away. At this point, the Chimney Swifts came out and filled the late evening sky above as they swirled around and around, performing a most graceful aeronautical ballet, while catching insects and filling the air with their own beautiful tunes! It was a most beautiful evening and another great memory!
Currently On Our Easels: I am working on a mother and calf cow for Trailside Galleries Invitational Miniature Show and Wes is painting a swan.
We were delighted this morning to receive the news that we each had a painting juried into the 53rd Annual Art & the Animal Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists! My “Birds And Art” and Wes’ “Going, Going … Gone!”will join the rest of the world-class wildlife art to premiere at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, VT. We’re very much looking forward to being back in Vermont in the fall to enjoy the stunning fall colors!
Watch the one-minute demonstration video for how Wes painted this painting!